Electricity

The electrical current is 220 volts, 50 Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.

Language

Both Spanish and indigenous Guarani are official languages. English is not widely spoken or understood.

Money

The currency of Paraguay is the Paraguayan guarani (PYG). United States Dollars are also widely accepted. Visitors are advised to use banks or official Bureaux de Change for exchanging money rather than street exchange kiosks because there are many counterfeit notes in circulation. Credit cards are rarely accepted outside the major cities and may come with a surcharge. There are numerous ATMs in urban centres, which generally take Cirrus, Maestro, and Visa cards, but visitors who use them are advised to be vigilant due to the risk of crime. Banks are open Monday to Saturday between about 8.00am and 1pm.

Tipping

Tips of a few thousand guaranies are usually appreciated, though travellers shouldn't insist if locals reject the offers. As a rough guide, bars do not expect tips, and a gratuity of between 5000 and 1000 PYG is standard for meals at pricier restaurants.

Health

All travellers should be vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, and those planning to travel in rural areas and eat outside of hotels and restaurants should consider a vaccination for typhoid. All travellers arriving from yellow fever risk areas need to carry proof of vaccination to enter Paraguay and the vaccination is also generally recommended for travel in the country.

Travellers should also be up to date with vaccinations for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. The risk of malaria is low, though medication is recommended. Tap water is safe in Asuncion, but bottled water is generally the better option, particularly for those who are sensitive to minor dietary changes. Caution should be exercised with street food and any uncooked food.

Healthcare facilities are good in Asuncion but may be very limited beyond the capital. Comprehensive travel and health insurance is recommended and all required medication should be carried into the country, along with a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.

Safety

Most visits to Paraguay are trouble-free but visitors should note that incidents of violent crime are on the increase, particularly pickpocketing, muggings and other street crimes in Asuncion, Ciudad del Este, and Pedro Juan Caballero.

Visitors should take sensible precautions such as not carrying large amounts of cash, wearing visible jewellery, or displaying valuables, especially when walking the streets or using public transport.

Those who travel around the country should note that there are frequent military and police roadblocks and checkpoints in operation. Travellers are advised to avoid protests, as they occasionally become violent.

Local customs

Visitors should respect the fact that Paraguayans are a conservative people who value old-fashioned courtesies. Homosexuality is legal but public displays of affection are frowned upon. All residents and visitors are required to carry identification at all times. Generally, authorities will accept a photocopy of documents like passports. As with neighbouring countries, locals enjoy a siesta over lunch when they snooze or drink maté (local tea) with friends. Shops and businesses may be closed at this time.

Doing business

Those heading for business meetings in Paraguay would be well advised to hire an interpreter or have a working knowledge of Spanish, as English is not widely spoken, even in the capital. Business appointments are formal and generally occur in the mornings.

Dress should be conservative, preferably lightweight business suits for men and the equivalent for women. Business hours are from about 8am to 12pm and 2.30pm to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 12pm on Saturday.

Duty free

Visitors to Paraguay may bring into the country amounts of tobacco products, alcohol and perfume deemed sufficient for personal use during their stay. The value of goods brought into the country should not exceed USD 300 if arriving by air or water, and USD 150 if arriving by land.

Communications

The international direct dialling code for Paraguay is +595. Local SIM cards are significantly cheaper than roaming and wifi is common in the cities, where all hotels and most bars and restaurants offer it.

Passport & Visa

Those requiring visas must apply to the nearest Paraguayan consulate. It is recommended that travellers always have six months' validity on their passports as immigration officials may impose restrictions other than those officially stated. Vaccinations against yellow fever are required for passengers arriving from or transiting infected areas.

Entry requirements

United States citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter Paraguay. Visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion for a max stay of 90 days.

British citizens require a valid passport valid for 6 months from the date of exit, but can enter without a visa for up to 90 days.

Canadians require a valid passport and a visa to enter Paraguay, but visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion for a max stay of 90 days.

Australians require a valid passport and a visa to enter Paraguay, but visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion for a max stay of 90 days.

South African citizens require a valid passport, but no visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

Citizens of Ireland require a valid passport, but no visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

New Zealand citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter Paraguay, but visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion for a max stay of 90 days.

Useful contacts

National Tourism Secretariat: 595 21 450 965. Official Tourism Website: www.senatur.gov.py

Emergencies: 911.

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Embassy of Paraguay, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 483 6960.

Embassy of Paraguay, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7610 4180.

Embassy of Paraguay, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 567 1283.

Consulate-General of Paraguay, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6156 4522.

Embassy of Paraguay, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 347 1047.

Embassies / consulates in Paraguay

United States Embassy, Asuncion: +595 (0)21 213 715.

British Embassy, Asuncion: +595 (0)21 614 588.

Honorary Consulate of Canada, Asuncion: +595 (0)21 227 207.

Australian Embassy, Buenos Aires, Argentina (also responsible for Paraguay): +54 (0)11 4779 3500.

South African Honourary Consulate, Asuncion: +595 (0)21 441 971.

New Zealand Embassy, Buenos Aires, Argentina (also responsible for Paraguay): +54 (0)11 5070 0700.

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